The NFC East has long been the darling of ESPN.com's weekly Power Rankings, but there's been a disturbing shift this season. The division nearly always features a team in the top 10, but the Dallas Cowboys' 27-20 loss to the Chicago Bears caused panelists to lose patience and drop them a startling nine spots. The Washington Redskins now hold the highest ranking in the Beast for the first time in years.
NFC West blogger Mike Sando has taken the mystery out of the voting process and given us a front-row seat to how much John "The Professor" Clayton loves Mike Shanahan's team. Now let's break it down team-by-team and see which panelists deserve the most angry reader comments on their respective blogs:
14. Washington Redskins -- The Skins held steady at 14 despite their late collapse at home against the Houston Texans. Actually, I don't have a huge problem with that result. If they win that game, a No. 12 ranking was probably in order. I think the other voters are starting to catch up with Clayton in terms of showing more respect for Washington. In fact, AFC North blogger James Walker gave the Skins a higher ranking (13) than Clayton (14), which raised eyebrows at Redskins Park.
16. Philadelphia Eagles -- This seems about right. The Eagles moved up two spots from last week following their 35-32 road win over the Lions. Now everyone's waiting to see what the Eagles will do with Kevin Kolb back in the saddle. AFC South blogger Paul Kuharsky is bullish on the Eagles with a No. 12 vote but Walker canceled him out by leaving the Eagles at 18. That was one of the bigger voting discrepancies and I've asked Billy Barnwell and my Football Outsiders pals to look into this issue. Perhaps Walker needs to look at more variables.
17. Dallas Cowboys -- This was the second biggest drop of any team in the league. Only the Vikings suffered a more embarrassing fall. Sando still sees something in this team with a No. 14 ranking, but Kuharsky has completely bailed with a 19 on his ballot.
19. New York Giants -- I think almost any team in the league was going to get punished in a Sunday night game in Indy with the Colts coming off a humiliating effort in Houston. I'm almost willing to give the Giants a pass in that game and it looks like Clayton sort of agrees with me. He gave the Giants their best score at 16 but Kuharsky and Walker, both resentful of the NFC East's rabid fan base, had them at No. 20.